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****Warning, there is a major FUN/geek spolier near the bottom of this review. You have been warned****
Ok, There are always tons of these reviews posted but I wanted to get my feelings out about the game.
In short, I really like the game. To me, its like watching an episode of Star Trek, or two or three episodes, depending on how long your playing lol.
Now for the long version! ***Warning, this is going to be very long!***
Where to begin. Star Trek has 40 years worth of enjoyment to draw from and that leads to some problems for people. The first issue is that everyone has a different opinion on what their version of star trek should be and that is going to be the biggest problem that cryptic will not be able to overcome, at least not at the start. The second issue is that this is also an mmo and there is no ways around this, there are things in the game that break canon and thats going to piss off some people. Could it have been done better? Yes. Could it have been done worse? Oh yeah!
Lets just start off with the setting. You have both space and ground combat in the game. I think it has been mentioned that they wanted a ratio of around 60/40 for space/ground combat. They didn't hit that target. Not even close. I would say its more 80/20. They definitely need more ground combat in the game to help mix it up. This game is also set in the middle of a war. This is not going to be diplomacy trek. There will be some diplomatic missions but they are very few and very far between. Most of the things your going to do in this game is fight. This is an MMO after all, and to be honest, having a lot of diplomatic missions, at least in my opinion, would get boring. This alone will turn some people off, but lets be honest, there are very few episodes of any of the trek series, that had no combat in them.
To me, this is my favorite, currently, but it is far from "polished". You have things like, enemies running at you backwards, maybe even fighting you with their backs turned. You have phaser fire that wont be dead on. meaning, you could have someone targetted just off to your right or left, and fire the phaser and the beam would fire in that direction, even though your facing forwards. The AI on the ground is pretty good for your crew. Maybe not so much for the enemies your fighting. Many times they do not seek cover (which would be kind of pointless since this is based off rpg rules and not first person shooters) but if they did, it would add to the "realism" factor. Your npc crew often can get stuck on doorways or other objects and you will most likely have to go back to get them or simply go on without them. When the mission is over, all will beam back up regardless of where they are.
Now here is where it gets kind of tricky. To some people, they wont like this, to others, they will. This is partially why I feel this is like watching an episode of star trek. In ground combat, I have only died one time. I have come close a few times, but only actually died once. This was in roughly 30-32 hours of gameplay. I rarely ever healed myself, the NPC crew does a great job of keeping you alive. This is also a draw back. If you were to go into a group of 5 captains, the people are going to have to be on the ball to keep everyone alive. The npc crew does such a wonderful job of that, it makes you forget that you actually have a class and that you are the leader of the away team. In a 5 captain party, that could spell trouble for the team as you can get used to not worrying about your health having been with an npc crew.
The ground missions are fun, but lets face it. nothing new here really. Its the same MMO style since, well, mmo's. Most of your ground missions is get from point a to b and maybe to c, kill everything along the way, grab some data or some cargo and split. Even with saying that though, it still feels like you are on the away mission and are leading your team to the objective. It feels like the shows! They still need a lot of polish on the ground missions, but even in its current state, it feels treky and thats what is important!
Skills and equipment:
This is a rough area. For skills, there are descriptions of what they are, but that is about it. You have ground skills and you have space skills. They dont go into much detail at all and the numbers they give you when you upgrade them are kind of meaningless because you don't know what the base start of each skill is, so to really understand the stats, you need a lot more information and they just dont give it. Same goes with equipment that you put on your ship. You see the numbers, but they are meaningless unless you know what the numbers really mean, and unfortunately, I have found nothing that tells you how good +7 is to your deflector dish or +3 to your tractor beam. They really do need to give more information here so that you can really understand why that +3 is awesome, or why it could be crap. Skills is probably the roughest area in the unpolished area and frankly, I dont know when or if they will get around to really improve the information that is presented to you here. This may be the one area that you really hope we can get some free skill resets as I am sure people will put points into stuff that they may never use.
Very fun, very frustrating! Flying in STO is... HARD! You have a few ways of flying the ship. wasd keys, or flying with your mouse while holding down both mouse buttons. there may be some joystick controls in the game, but I haven't attempted that. Now, imagine if you will that your flying around in space. You come across a gorn ship and he opens fire. Well, there are so many things that you need to do in the game, that it will require you to be clicking on some things, while hitting the space bar, while hitting number keys, all while your now flying with wasd keys and lets not forget, you may be trying to reenforce a section of your shields. So as you can see, there can be a ton of things going on all while your trying to fly this ship and keep it in a pattern to try and stay working on one of the enemies shields and trying to keep him from counter moving to get you to fire on shields that are full. So... many... things.... This is the one reason why I like ground combat better. Its much more simple, maybe to simple for many folks.
Now, the biggest complaint by far is the turning speed of these ships. They do not turn fast. There was one post I saw that said, currently, it took him a full 60 seconds in a cruiser (could have been a heavy cruiser), to make a 360 turn. That is insane. Even though your starting ship is much smaller and does turn quicker than that, it still feels like a big boat trying to turn. Now, couple this with the different weapon types in the game and you can get very pissed off, very quickly. Take for instance, phasers. Normal phasers have a 240 degree arc. so one in front and one in back, if you can keep your ships side, facing the enemy, you will be firing both phasers at the same time. Now, take those out and put in a dual phaser aray setup and now your tactics on the enemy is very different. The dual phaser aray does MORE damage but only has a 90 degree arc. So unless your ship is pretty much facing them head on, they wont be going off. So now, you have to to keep them in your front target and they are trying to get out of your front target. This was very frustrating for me. I was not a good enough pilot to like that setup.
It basically was me reverse kiting the enemy. get to max range, fire and hit reverse thrusters and just try to keep him in my front sites. On only one enemy, this isn't to bad, but when you got 3 or more all firing on your front shields, they simply can not take that kind of damage and eventually BOOM, your dead. In 30ish hours of game play, I died at least 10 times. Not something that makes me feel very star treky because usually in star trek, your ship explodes, you die. there are no escape pods in these ships! Now, we can take the phasers on step further. There is another set that only has a 45 degree arc that does a boat load of damage, but again, very narrow arc in which you can actually shoot. Im sure I didn't see all of the phasers in the game, so I am betting there are more with different stats, different arcs, so if you get frustrated with space combat, try different phasers with different arcs. Im sure your probably going to find one that works better for your play style.
The sound in the game is very good. You have all the treky little noises that just add to the feel of being in a trek world. There are tons of bugs still there, there are tons of polishing that still needs to be done. But to me, if this was to release tomorrow, I would be right there. There is nothing ground breaking that would keep me from playing the game. Keep in mind, this review has NOTHING to do with klingons as I didn't even try them out. If you want to play a klingon, read someone elses review. This is purely federation play!
This game, to me, has the star trek feel down pat. Sure there is a lot of canon broken by the MMO side of it, but if your a fan of star trek in general, I think you will really enjoy this game. There is tons of references everywhere about characters from the other series. There are fun things that you just wouldn't expect.
Major geek/fun tidbit I found during the beta.
It is possible to loot a tribble during a mission. Guess what, 1 is more than enough. I found this absolutely funny as hell when it happened to me. One thing to note, you can put a tribble in one of your device slots and use it for out of combat healing. That is cool in itself, but if you leave it in your inventory and you happen to have food in your inventory, the tribble WILL eat the food and will multiply!!!! I think it took mine about an hour before it multiplied the first time. So, let it do this 6 times, give you and each of your npc crew members a tribble and put them all in the device slots and when your doing ground combat, just about every single time you are done with a fight, anyone hurt will pull out the tribble and start petting it. Absolutely just awesome humor they put in this game.
Oh, and in case you didnt notice. I LIKE the game a lot! I have it pre-ordered AND I expect to be playing this one for a long time! Do not let the naysayers get you down. But be warned, this game is NOT for everyone. die hard trek folks may not be able to get over canon being broken. Some die hard, MMO fans are not going to be happy. This game is not hard by any means, well the space combat is to me, but overall the game is not hard. it is set for fun in the ST universe and I think cryptic has done a stand up job for what they have gotten into the game in only 2 years of dev time. This is why I say it will only get better. There is just so much stuff in the star trek universe that they can add, and that means the game is simply going to get better and better each day!